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Fierce competition expected in Tanzania

Competition is expected to be fierce when the ICC u19 Cricket World Cup Africa Qualifier gets underway in the Tanzanian capital Dar es Salaam this weekend. 

The Namibia Walvis Bay Salt Eagles team will join five other teams – the hosts Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, Nigeria and Sierra Leone – who will battle it out on a round-robin basis for the top spot that will book the winning team a ticket to the 2024 u19 World Cup in Sri Lanka. 

Two years ago Namibia narrowly lost out on qualifying for the world cup when they were pipped to the line after a close threeway battle against Uganda and Tanzania at the African qualifier in Kigali, Rwanda. 

They all finished equal on six points after winning three of their four matches, but Uganda narrowly got the top spot with the best run rate of 2,128, while Namibia came second with 0,817 and Tanzania third with 0,381. 

Namibia convincingly beat Uganda by seven wickets in their group match, after restricting the Cranes to 125 all out and then reaching the target for the loss of three wickets. 

Namibia also beat Rwanda by 111 runs and Nigeria by six runs, but suffered a 48-run defeat to Tanzania to eventually lose out on the top spot. 

In that match Tanzania scored 200 for eight wickets, with Namibian captain Jack Parker taking three wickets for nine runs. Namibia were, however, bundled out for 152, with opener Ryan Moffet scoring 35 runs. 

Of that squad, only Moffett, Gerhard Janse van Rensburg, Alex Volschenk and JW Visagie remain, while Parker was not selected and has been replaced as captain by Volschenk, who is studying at Waterkloof High School in Pretoria, South Africa. 

Of the other three, Janse van Rensburg has emerged as a stand-out top order batter and recently made his senior debut for the Richelieu Namibian Eagles against Uganda.

Most of the new caps have made their mark in the Premier League, while Jack Brassel and Zacheo van Vuuren were also also called up to the senior squad against Uganda earlier this month.

All teams fired up 

According to an ICC report, the Namibian squad left for South Africa last week where they were scheduled to play three warm-up matches, while they arrived in Dar es Salaam on Monday and have another scheduled warm-up match today. 

The team has a new coach in South African, Oscar Nauhaus, who sounded upbeat when interviewed by the ICC.

“The squad has sufficient experience, with some members having participated in the previous u19 World Cup Qualifier in Kigali. The team has a variety of skill-sets to call on, which should provide us the opportunity to be adaptable and flexible,” he was quoted as saying. 

The other competing nations in Tanzania, however, are all well-prepared and fancy their chances of winning the African qualifier according to the

“I have a team of all-rounders who can deliver on any given day,” Tanzania coach Jimmy Kamande said. 

“The team has prepared in the best possible way. We have had no tours, but do have the psychological edge as we have been in camp for the past month and are familiar with the local conditions,” he added. 

The Ugandan team spent a month in India preparing, where they won five of seven warm-up matches and coach Emmanuel Isaneez said they were wel-prepared. 

“Everyone will come hard at us but weare ready for them. We had a trip to India in May which boosted the morale of the team and also played a role in giving both players and coaches the experience that was needed to compete under harsh and tough conditions. They will be better with this experience when they reach Tanzania,” he said. 

The Kenyan and Nigerian teams also prepared in India at the Omtex Cricket Institute about 50km north of Mumbai and both expressed their readiness for the World Cup qualifier. 

“The boys have really learnt new things and trained at one of the best facilities in the world, with the best coaches in the sub-continent,” Kenya coach Josephat Irungu said.

“After training at home for two months, this is exactly what we needed to wrap up our preparations. We will certainly now be with a competitive mindset,” he added. 

“Mental preparation and game awareness are things we have been focussing on,” Nigeria coach Daniel Gim said. 

“Our bowling is our trump card which should take us over the line. In a round-robin event everyone is our rival and we will tackle them as they come,” he added. 

Sierra Leone captain John Bangura was also in confident mood. 

“Going to the world cup is any team’s dream and nothing will stopusfrom pushing for a chance to go to Sri Lanka. We are going to Tanzania with an open mind and one mission – to give our all in every match,” he said.